The Brief: Top Texas News for April 5, 2011

The Big Conversation:

The gulf between the House and Senate over budget cuts may be widening.

Though House Republicans, with a two-thirds majority, handily passed a stark, service-slashing budget this weekend, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has said the House proposal wouldn't get the votes needed to pass in the similarly Republican-dominated Senate, where lawmakers have said they're prepared to spend about $10 billion more than the House.

But key Republican senators now say they've also got beef with some of the amendments their House counterparts tacked on to the bill over the weekend.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Sens. Robert Deuell of Greenville and Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, both Republicans, say they'll try to restore funding to family planning services like Planned Parenthood, from which House lawmakers voted to strip funding, which they then redirected to autism programs.

"I don't care for Planned Parenthood, [but] I don't want to cut access to family planning. I don't want to decrease access," Deuell told the Chronicle. "One way to stop abortions is to prevent unwanted pregnancies."

Nelson echoed Deuell: "We need to help women who need our assistance with family planning or contraceptives to not have a baby when they can't care for it," she said.

On Monday, Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said the Senate Finance Committee, which he chairs, would take up the budget legislation in two weeks. Until then, expect more debate as the two chambers attempt to find middle ground.

Culled:

  • Changing directions entirely, the House voted 137-9 on Monday to give preliminary approval to a bill allowing hunters to shoot feral hogs and coyotes from helicopters. The bill's author, Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, said the hogs cause hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage every year. Similar legislation passed through the House last session but stalled in a Senate committee. Wondering how real this problem is anyway? So was the Tribune's Reeve Hamilton.
  • A Texas appeals court on Monday denied two death row inmates' requests to stop the state from using a new lethal injection drug. One of the inmates, Cleve Foster, is set to be executed this evening.
  • The state Senate voted 29-2 on Monday to change the name of the Railroad Commission to the Texas Oil and Gas Commission and replace its three elected members with one elected commissioner. The Sunset Advisory Commission, which targets government waste and excess, made similar recommendations for the agency earlier this year.

"It is really bad." — An unnamed Republican to Politico on the fight between two longtime Texas congressmen, Lamar Smith of San Antonio and Joe Barton of Ennis, that has erupted in Washington over redistricting

Must-Read:

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